World's Ugliest Airports
Ian Leonard / Alamy
Narita International Airport, Tokyo
Part of the problem with Narita is that one expects so much more from Tokyo. Located 45 miles—yes, 45 miles—outside the city, it’s a product of 1960s planning and 1970s style: coldly technocratic, soullessly efficient. Narita’s construction was delayed by a land-rights controversy that culminated in deadly riots; at one point local farmers even erected a 200-foot-tall steel tower to block one of the runways. The airport actually sat unused long after it was completed, and remained under heavily armed guard for years, well before post-9/11 security kicked in. Somehow, all this ill will is embedded in the complex itself—as if making the terminals as boring and neutral as possible were a deliberate ploy to ward off further trouble.
The Upside: Small, clean day hotels where weary passengers can shower and nap between flights.